Guest post: The evolution of Evolution by Rachel Henry

Our next The Fiber Factor KAL (beginning November 2nd) is the Evolution Shawl by designer and contestant Rachel Henry. She shares her thoughts on the design and yarn selection process in today’s guest post. Be sure to check out all the gorgeous Evolution Shawls that are already posted on Ravelry, pick up your yarn and get ready to cast on! You’ll have a gorgeous FO in time for holiday gifting (or wearing)!

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It’s been more than a year since I received the details of the very first challenge of The Fiber Factor. I was so excited to open the box and get started! The challenge itself was wide open: “Knit Your Life!”  declared the judges. The unassuming cardboard box contained a wealth of gorgeous yarn, and each ball cried out for swatching.

yarn choices

I had already decided that the best representation of my life (or, at the very least, my knitterly life) was a big lacy/textured shawl with lots of complexity and flow. Stitch dictionaries spread around me, I swatched with my first choice yarn: Leinen Los (left). I had a serious crush on that yarn!  Alas, it proved too fantastic in and of itself and the lace pattern could barely be seen. I moved on to my second choice yarn, Unisono right), and found happiness there.

PicMonkey Collage

The stitch patterns I chose for Evolution begin simply and flow into each other with increasing complexity. The shawl shape is my personal favorite: six increases on every right-side row form the body into a graceful curve that is easy to wear and has an appealing flourish.

I made charts and a spreadsheet to track my progress – knitting on a short deadline requires organizational skills and commitment! Each day I knit my scheduled allotment of stitches, and I finished with time to spare.

finished Evolution

I had hoped for a more enthusaistic reception from the judges … if I recall correctly, one of the criticisms was that the color changes of self-striping Unisono obscured the stitch patterns.  With time I’ve come to accept that this is true, not least because I’ve recently re-knit Evolution in a solid color myself. It is much more serene than the vibrant original, and the stitch patterns shine.  I’ll never give up my love of colorful self-striping yarn, I promise, but I have learned that sometimes a little restraint goes a long way.

Meet Zumie! New for fall 2014!

Skacel is excited to announce the arrival of HiKoo’s new quick-knit … Zumie (pronounced ‘zoo-me’)! 

A well-balanced blend of wool, nylon, and acrylic, this voluminous fiber works up effortlessly on US 13 needles, providing wonderful drape and stitch definition. Each hank is 110 yards and 200 grams.

Available in 24 colors, Zumie is available through your LYS or local HiKoo stockist.

zumie color chart

Playing on Zumie’s quick-knit element, each hank features two complimentary patterns printed on the inside of the banding (for those seeking some instant gratification).  The hat or cowl can each be knit with just one skein! They will definitely be my go-to gift knit this fall. 

PicMonkey Collage

The pattern uses a cool slip-stitch ribbing technique, which you can see demonstrated on our YouTube channel, Skacelevision.

 Zumie will begin arriving in shops in mid-to-late June. These projects are perfect vacation knitting, so be sure to pick up a few skeins. You can knock out some holiday gifts before school starts!

Simplinatural for spring

We introduced Simpliworsted two and a half years ago, and our customers have embraced it as a soft, squishy and versatile workhorse. Now, we’re taking that yarn to the next level with Simplinatural. It’s a plied alpaca, wool and silk blend that is best described by the word “yummy.” Really. And what a gorgeous color palette!

simplinatural

The Shoreline Moebius Cowl is a free pattern written specifically for this yarn, and it’s a perfect cozy accessory for this winter that won’t end! Of course, you can use any color combination you like.

Shoreline Moebius Cowl by Skacel Collection Inc.

Designer and shop owner StevenBe also designed a cowl, and it’s double stranded with Schulana Kid-Paillettes, which takes the luxe look to another level!

Simplielegant by StevenBe resized

If you are a garment knitter, check out this great design by the inimitable Sally Melville. L’Enveloppe is a great easy-wear option that has a simple style that will really show off the beauty of the yarn! Of course, the Hunger Games vibe is an added bonus! The pattern is available to purchase in store, which is a great option, especially if you want to talk to your favorite Skacel shop owner about sizing, etc.

L'Enveloppe by Sally Melville

More and more of our retailers are receiving Simplinatural every day. Stop by your LYS and ask for it. It’s sumptuous!

Love CoBaSi? Meet CoBaSi Plus!

One of our Facebook fans commented that CoBaSi was the “Best sock yarn ever plus the color ways r absolutely beautiful!” Of course, we couldn’t agree more :). In fact, the response to the fingering weight has been so tremedous, we have released CoBaSi Plus, a true worsted weight. It has the same fiber content as its lighter cousin – 55% Cotton, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 21% Elastic Nylon, and knits up at 5 stitches to the inch on a US size 7 needle. If you haven’t tried CoBaSi, you’ll find that the cotton and silk provide softness, while the bamboo and elastic nylon provide strength and foregiveness. Perfect for so many uses, and obviously an ideal option for those with wool sensitivities.

Another plus (pardon the pun!) is that has the same color range as original CoBaSi, so you can use the CoBaSi for socks to match a cardigan in CoBaSi Plus, for example. With so many colors, the options are nearly endless!

Cobasi Plus shade card resized

We have a free pattern available on our site that is the perfect opportunity to try out this yarn. It’s a simple, unisex pullover that has a broad range of sizes (up to 38″ chest!). A great sweater for older/younger siblings!

bookish pullover cropped

Check with your local or online Hikoo stockist to see if they have CoBaSi in stock. They can always order the colors you need.

New yarns for Spring 2014!

It’s hard to believe that spring will actually come one day, but we’ll be thinking about lighter weight garments pretty soon! Hikoo has recently introduced three new yarns, Rylie (a beautiful alpaca/silk/linen blend), Simplinatural (a luxurious alpaca/silk/wool blend) and CoBaSi Plus (a worsted weight version of our popular fingering weight CoBaSi).

Let’s take a closer look at Rylie, shall we?

This lightweight luxury sportweight yarn is a transeasonal wonder. Lusciously soft baby alpaca is enriched with the elegant drape and gleam of mulberry silk and the rustic tactile appeal of linen. Each fiber takes the dye slightly differently, which results in a lovely heathered colorways. Dyed in soft pastels, beachy brights and glowing neutrals, Rylie has excellent stitch definition, too!  Each 100-gram hank is 274 yards and knits up to 6 stitches to the inch on a US 3 or 4 needle.

The shade card show the fabulous colorway range. There’s a color for every type of garment or accessory!

Rylie shade card

The Scalloptini Pullover (available through your local yarn store) is the perfect warm-weather layering piece. The femininity of the lace is accentuated by the beautiful drape of the fabric. 

Scalloptini Pullover by Kathy Hightower

The talented designer and shop owner StevenBe takes the yarn in a completely different direction with his Really Rylie cowl (available as a Ravelry download), where he double strands Rylie with Schulana Kid-Paillettes.

Really Rylie by StevenBe

Stop by your local Skacel shop and experience this and our other beautiful yarns in person!

January Recollections

Hello! It’s been about a month since our trade show filled January and while I already posted a wrap-up of the first half here, I have yet to fill you in on the second leg of the fiber filled journey. Yarn shops everywhere flock to The National NeedleArts Association winter trade show (known simply as TNNA) to get a glimpse of what’s new in the world of yarn (we introduced our spring yarns and the Building Blocks pattern book by Michelle Hunter). But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Karin and I flew back from NYC exhausted and inspired. It was an incredible busy show for us, introducing the new addi Click Lace Long Tip set and putting on two fashion shows. We formed the smallest knitting group known to man and kept an eye on the unusual Seattle forecast…

To distract myself from weather related turbulence, I dove headlong into a graphic novel series called Y: The Last Man. I squealed with delight when I saw one of the toughest characters knitting!

When Y (the last man) gave her grief about her feminine hobby she replied that knitting needles, as we all know, are plenty dangerous…

Upon landing, we were hit with a surreal scene. Oppressive Pacific NW gray had given way to cold white, and for the next 24 hours even simple errands became monumental events. Seattle isn’t quite equipped to handle snowfall, as I would learn the next day…

This is me at the start of my trek to Phoenix, a bit underdressed, but well-layered and excited to head to a state I’d never visited before.

And this is my coworkers and me, coming to terms with multiple cancelled flights…

When I learned that we were stuck for at least 6 hours, I did what any self-respecting polish addict would do. I headed straight for the Butter London salon in Concourse C! I’m normally a DIY kinda girl, so it was a treat to have someone else do my nails. This is olive green Wallis with a topcoat of West End Wonderland. I called this my Money Mani, since it had all the colors of American money: green cash and silvery, coppery coins. Knitting in public all day is so much more fun when you have blingtastic nails like these.

When we finally got a flight out, it was headed for Long Beach, California. Which would have been great last year (TNNA used to be held in Long Beach), but this year it meant that we had to rent a car near midnight and drive through the night to get to Phoenix on time to set up our booth. GOOD TIMES!

We had burgers and french fries at an unseemly hour and brainstormed names for a new product. The dark desert landscapes were totally lost on our delirious group and around 6 a.m., we rolled into Phoenix.

We set up the booth in a bit of a fog, but when we came back the next day were were all really pleased with our Seattle inspired Skacel Fiber Market (which came complete with produce, crabs and Artfelt flying fish).

The rest of TNNA was kind of a blur! A very fun, friend-filled blur, with plenty of breaks for wonderful and odd meals like this one, an upscale TV dinner:

There were new friends (the adorable Ravelry babies):

Amazing knits (Michelle Hunter’s spectacular tights):

 

And before I knew it, it was over. I have a time tested way of staving off the post-show blues, and it involves a decadent pre-flight beverage and a stack of magazines, some silly and some skill-building.

As you can see, it’s quite the whirlwind. We returned revived from seeing old friends and getting a dose of sun, minds full of ideas for JUNE…

 CR

Year of the Dragon

According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the DRAGON. According to Pantone, this is also the year of Tangerine Tango, a vibrant shade that blends the most energetic qualities of pink, red and orange. The pairing somehow seems fortuitous…

The year is supposed to be one full of powerful energy and productivity. What an inspiring forecast! I’m helping the mystical Dragon along by attacking my personal resolutions with vigor. Yarn is my life, and here at Skacel, we ADORE a strong red. I didn’t have to search very hard to find a gorgeous selection of this elusive but incredibly dynamic shade. Pictured above, clockwise from left: HiKoo Simpliworsted in #16 Gypsy Red, Zitron Filisilk in #3004 Red, Schulana Cashmere Moda in #5, Schulana Kid Seta #7 Burnt Orange, HiKoo Timidity in Gypsy Red/Milk Chocolate, Zitron Nimbus in Tomato, Zitron Unisono Solid in #1159, HiKoo Simplicity in Ghost Chili, Schoppel-Wolle Zauberwolle in #1701 Ombre.

I hope this pile of glowy goodness is inspiring. I think I have just enough time to whip up a Twin Cities Headband before VK Live in NYC. It’s sure to be cold, and I’d love to broadcast my color obsession and keep warm at the same time. If you spot me wearing it, come and say hello and I might have a surprise for you…

CR

In Lieu of Snow

I am heading into my first winter here in Seattle, and I must say, I miss snow! It could be the visual thrill of a sparkling expanse of clean white, or the noise dampening effects of a fresh blanket of cold powder. It could be the fun of trudging through suddenly silent woods, or the cozy feeling of being trapped indoors while a storm rages outside.

I recently designed a simple cowl that could be knit in one snowbound evening. It calls for 4 balls of Schulana Cortina Nuvole, a yarn that reminds me of freshly fallen snow–soft, fluffy and light. Download the free Columbia Cowl pattern here.

I’ll be heading back East to celebrate the holidays with family, and I’m crossing my fingers for some snowfall. Until then I’ll content myself with holiday nail varnishes and my Yuletide board on Pinterest…

Hope your winter is looking magical wherever you are…

Cirilia

The Winners’ Circle

The first Progressive Needles Knit-Along project is done! The Triplicity Shawl is an adorable skill-building shawlette knit with HiKoo Simplicity, a soft, washable DK-weight yarn that comes in a wide range of over 50 solid shades and nearly a dozen multicolor options.

Playing along with the KAL means that you get a free pattern with lots of in-depth tutorials by Michelle Hunter, but it also means PRIZES! We offer weekly prizes by hiding clues on our websites. Anyone can play, but to qualify for the monthly prizes, you have to knit-along and send us pictures of your finished projects. Learn more here, and check out our October winners:

KAL Winners

1st Place goes to Rose Weckesser of Columbus, OH (upper left). She wins a set of Turbo Clicks and she purchased her KAL yarn from Knitting Temptations in Dublin, OH.

2nd Place goes to Loretta Magers of Prospect, OH (upper right). She wins a Skacel Goody Bag and she purchased her KAL yarn from Spin a Yarn Fiber Garden in Marion, OH.

3rd Place goes to Miriam Yarnall of Dayton, OH (middle left). She wins a Skacel Goody Bag and she purchased her KAL yarn from Fiberwild in Galena, IL.

4th Place goes to Dagmar Eriksson of Ortonville, MI (middle right). She wins a Skacel Goody Bag and she purchased her KAL from Beyond the Rainforest in Grand Blanc, MI.

5th Place goes to Abby Mroczenski of Des Plaines, IL (lower left). She wins a Skacel Goody Bag and she purchased her KAL yarn from Mosaic Yarn Studio in Des Plaines, IL.

I know that the second project is already underway. To catch up with the KAL, visit Michelle’s blog.

CR

Bookworm

I recently moved into a new house. Moving twice in one year, not very fun. Getting my very first dedicated crafting space? Extremely fun! The very first thing I did was unpack my most used, most loved craft books. I usually arrange by height, but this time I tried something new, something borrowed from one of my favorite yarn shops, Purl Soho. Even though I’m 3000 miles away, I consider it an LYS. They arrange their yarn chromatically and I really love the effect that sorting method has on my books:

I always love getting a peek at other people’s bookshelves, so I thought you might like to take a peek at mine. Some of my current and/or enduring favorites:

What are some of your favorites?
CR